School Solutions Page 48
Connecting Teacher Wish
Lists With Donors
BY BOB THACKER
Frida Rojas, a kindergarten teacher at Frances Tucker Elementary in the Miami-Dade County, Fla., Public Schools, registered her classroom at Adopt-a-Classroom.org, and then itemized the basic supplies and resources she needed most to create an engaging learning environment.
Her list included construction paper, glue, scissors, folders, crayons and games for teaching reading and math. Her posting on our website came to the attention of a local donor. As a result, Rojas’ wish list was fulfilled. She could return her focus to teaching.
Rojas is one of the about 20,000 teachers who was linked with a partner in 2011 using Adopt-a-Classroom.org. As a hands-on user, she found it provided an easy way for donors to provide funding and support for her classroom instruction.
Our working model is simple: Adopt-A-Classroom.org is a secure and accountable website. Teachers log in and then identify and select the supplies they need most to meet student needs in a transparent online format.
Donations are tax-deductible, and 100 percent of them are passed along to the teachers. Donors can specify their gift go to a particular location or to any classroom in the country. That’s a unique aspect of our model.
As executive director of Adopt-a-Classroom, I work closely with national corporations to make them aware of the needs of schools and get them involved, from the executive suite to local employees, in supporting schools.
Corporate partners like OfficeMax, Coach Stores, Wells Fargo, Jones New York, Ford, HBO and Mercedes-Benz have adopted thousands of schools.
In my experience, nothing builds community and a shared sense of the impact on schools like bringing donors into the classroom. It’s the greatest joy of my job, and corporate donors tell me it is one of the highlights of their year.
The Adopt-A-Classroom community includes more than 80,000 registered teachers, 30,000 donors and 10,000 elementary and secondary schools. Although the program can be implemented at the classroom level, the momentum of adoptions is particularly strong when entire school districts get involved, from administration down to classroom.
The Stafford County, Va., Public Schools, which has worked with Adopt-A-Classroom at the district level for more than seven years, has raised more than $650,000, a vital contribution to the district.
Palm Beach County, Fla., Public Schools began its partnership less than a year ago, and already drew praise from Vickie Middlebrooks, a public affairs specialist, who said,
“Adopt-A-Classroom has made the process easy for our teachers to register, and parents and community members love having a simple way to donate to their local schools.”
Keep Speaking Out
The sad facts are that 75 percent of basic classroom supplies are funded by teachers; that is an unsustainable model. I continue to speak out and speak up for appropriate and much-needed education budgets for our schools.
The late Haim Ginott, author of the best-seller Between Parent and Child, once said, “Teachers are expected to reach unattainable goals with inadequate tools. The miracle is that at times they accomplish this task.”
School administrators who want to learn more about Adopt-A-Classroom.org can visit our website or contact me directly.
Bob Thacker is executive director of Adopt-A-Classroom.org in Minneapolis, Minn. E-mail: email@example.com